Maybe waste is the wrong word. I mean, I learned a lot blogging for over a decade. Being the sole writer for a martial arts blog and a personal author blog taught me a lot about designing on WordPress and got my essay structure on point. But what I’ve learned since joining Medium three weeks ago has given me the boost I needed to make some real money.
Here’s what I’ve learned…
How to Write a Headline
It’s possible that I’ve posted a thousand articles across the web. That’s a thousand headlines — more if you count points within those articles. Unfortunately for all of my previous readers, I don’t think I learned how to write a good headline until last week.
Reading articles by Tom Kuegler woke me up to writing a top-notch headline. Namely, look at the subtitle and consider using that (it’s your second draft, right?) That’s so simple! How did I not figure this stuff out on my own after a decade of writing? Maybe it’s because WordPress doesn’t have subtitles (or at least my themes never did).
Some things about headlines I figured out on my own: click-bait sucks, listicles work, be brief but fetching… However, my headlines didn’t pop until I read a few dozen articles on the subject on Medium.
Write to Someone Specific
When it’s nothing but you and a WordPress site staring into the void of the internet it’s easy to want to attract everyone, so you write to everyone.
Coming to Medium, I did the same thing. I chose specific topics, sure, but I wrote the articles with everyone in those topics in mind. Then I read a post by Time Denning where he described how each of his posts is written to a specific individual in his life.
Since there are always people in my life who could benefit from the things I write about, even if they refuse to hear it from me, I always have someone to write to. And as much as some of my friends would hate to hear it, they aren’t all that unique; there are others out there who would be interested in similar things.
Not only does this technique make the writing fly — talking to a friend is easy — but it makes the article more concise because at some point the mental image of my friend is rolling their eyes because I won’t stop talking.
There’s An Audience Out There Who Really Cares About Your Work
There’s no built-in audience when writing for your own blog. Driving traffic to a single site is hard work.
I’ve yet to have an article with zero views on Medium. And when the right people like my work, I get more views on a single article in a single day than my entire personal blog received in two months!
It’s nice to turn on your computer and see people interacting with your work. When at the boring day job, seeing that clap notification pop up on my phone is motivating to finish up work so I can get home and write some more.
Sure, building a platform takes time on Medium, same as on a personal blog. But on a personal site, it’s nothing but crickets while you’re in that building phase. At least on Medium there are some views and claps to keep you motivated to drive forward.
Writing A Lot Really Does Help
When I wrote daily for my own blogs, the audience ticker didn’t go up a whole lot (maybe I suck at SEO). But on Medium, with all of the stats from an audience actively looking in places where my work is posted, I can see trends.
The most impactful trend for me is what happens when I stop writing for a week: things slow down, big time.
I want to be a fiction writer (sci-fi and stuff; you might be into it). I’ve always known that self-publishing your work requires a fast and steady pace. Writing for Medium trains you to write to those deadlines. The need to get an article out every day to meet your goals, like Ayodeji Awosika teaches, builds the habit of…writing every day.
People Want to Work Together
This might be obvious to some, but it wasn’t until I started publishing posts on Medium that I realized this about my writing.
I tried to get into a few publications with my first couple of pieces, but no one was biting. So I published on my own to build my backlog of articles, convinced that some publication would be interested in my later articles if I had some good ones on my profile to look at.
A few hours after I clicked “publish”, I started getting messages from publication editors who loved my work. They asked if I would consider publishing those articles to their publications. I was elated, especially since one of them was The Startup, a huge publication that I thought I had zero chance of getting into as a newer Medium writer.
A decade on a digital island all by your lonesome may have jaded me, but Medium made me feel like a part of a community.
Nothing but gratitude.
I could have similar success on my own blog. I could build an audience, learn to write and market better, etc. But I’ll tell ya’, if the last 11 years is any indication, it’s not easy to learn while slogging through it all on your own. Medium is like a blog hub, digital community, and blogging university all rolled into one platform.
There’s so much to learn out there, and Medium bringing all of these people together in one place makes it so much easier and faster to learn it all.